As I now prepare for an Easter Sunday lunch with my family, I’m reminded of my friends in France, Germany and Austria and how they mark the occasion. And I thought now would be the perfect time to share that wisdom with you all!
Shrove Tuesday Festivities
Although celebrations in Germany bear similarity to those held in France. there are some subtle differences. During Fasching, a festival held across the country before the beginning of Lent, people parade through the streets wearing brightly coloured masks that they have made.
On Gründonnerstag, the Austrians like to exchange green eggs. Patterns are created on the eggs by tying pieces of fern and other small plants around the eggs and boiling them. After the plants have been removed, they leave behind a white pattern. (This sounds really pretty – I may well have to try to make some myself!) The Germans also decorate eggs in green on this day.
The Easter Weekend
On the eve of Ostersonntag, many German families light a bonfire, fuelled by the wood of old Christmas trees. This tradition has its roots in pagan customs that marked the coming of Spring. If a home or field was illuminated by a bonfire, it was said to be protected from sickness and misfortune.
The French will often indulge in a meal of lamb on dimanche de Pâques, preceded by soup or quiche and followed by wine, bread, cheese and a pudding with a hint of chocolate.
The Easter Bunny
In France, children may wake up to find Easter eggs in their rooms. The children may be told that the eggs were delivered by the church bells on their return from Rome, where they had been visiting the Pope.
Alongside chocolate eggs of varying intricacy, bells and bunnies, you may well find chocolate fish for sale in French chocolatiers. These are often more commonly associated with 1st April, when children pin paper fish to as many adults as they can, shouting “Poisson d’avril!” when those adults turn to find out what has happened.
In Oberammergau, Germany, every ten years, you can witness the performance of the Passion Play, a play first performed in 1634 and last performed in 2010. (You can watch the official trailer here!)
So now you’ve read about some of the traditions in France, Germany and Austria, which do you think you most like the sound of? What are your own local and family traditions? What's the thing you most enjoy about Easter?
Whatever you do, and however you are spending your weekend, I wish you a very Happy Easter!